What is DHEA? It stands for Dehydroepiandrosterone and is a building block of steroid hormones that is produced predominantly in the adrenal glands. It serves as a precursor to the sex hormone testosterone and estrogen in both men and women. DHEA is also a building block of the stress hormone cortisol and supports immune system function. DHEA may also increase insulin sensitivity, enhance fat metabolism, and act as an antioxidant. There are two type of dehydroepiandrosterone: DHEA and its sulfate form, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). Because DHEAS remains in the bloodstream longer than DHEA, doctors generally test DHEAS numbers when they suspect a problem with this hormone. Typically, DHEAS levels are high in newborns and drop significantly after birth. They increase during puberty, peak soon after, and decline with age.